Romo to have informal ‘pitch count’ to start training camp

Posted Sunday, Jul. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Tony Romo has been throwing for the last month, but the Dallas Cowboys will keep a close eye on him to make sure his arm is holding up OK.

The quarterback has been cleared to participate in training camp after a minor procedure on his back kept him on the sideline during the team’s off-season practices.

“It’s more communication — ‘How you feeling?’ — and also, you look at the ball,” coach Jason Garrett said Saturday as the Cowboys prepared for their first practice Sunday. “Does the ball look a little dead or tired? But mostly, it’s communication with him and how he’s feeling. We’ll all get a sense for that.”

Dr. Drew Dossett, a spine specialist for the Cowboys, removed a cyst from Romo’s back in April. Romo, 33, started some light throwing on the side during the Cowboys’ final minicamp practice last month.

Romo’s biggest challenge, though, might be conditioning.

“One of the challenges for Tony, when you have a back injury, is it’s hard for you to actually to stay in the kind of shape you want to be in,” Garrett said. “Really proud of how he’s worked since he’s been able to get back and running and doing the things he needs to do. He looks great. He looks lean to me. We do have to monitor his throwing. I don’t think it’ll be significant.”

Romo, who signed a six-year, $108 million contract extension with $55 million guaranteed on March 29, takes over a bigger role in the offense this season.

“We’re just making a real conscious effort as an organization to say, ‘Hey, let’s get more out of this situation. Let’s get more out of this guy,’ because we believe so strongly in him,” Garrett said, “and it’s been a real positive change for our football team.”

Three players limited

The Cowboys expect Tony Romo, defensive tackle Jay Ratliff and defensive end DeMarcus Ware to fully participate in training camp practices beginning Sunday. But three players will be limited.

Long snapper L.P. Ladouceur did not participate in the conditioning test Saturday because of a calf injury. Offensive guards Nate Livings (foot) and Ron Leary (calf) also are out for the beginning of camp.

“We don’t think these are serious things,” Jason Garrett said. “We think they’re more day-to-day type things. So those are the only guys at the outset that we think might not be available to us as we start practice tomorrow. But again, we’ll monitor them, see how guys do on a day-to-day basis.”

Garrett’s new role

Jason Garrett’s third training camp as head coach will not be the norm. He no longer will call the offensive plays, having handed over those duties to Bill Callahan in the off-season.

“It’ll just give you a practical opportunity to kind of step away from the offense a little bit,” Garrett said. “I made a very conscious effort over the last couple of years to coach the whole football team. I spent time with the defensive guys on their side of the practice field. I spent a lot of time in the defensive meetings and the special teams meetings. I’ve always done that.

“But just the mechanics of someone else calling the actual plays allows me to maybe take a different view of it. So you’ll see that on the practice field. That’s how we operated all throughout the off-season in our OTAs and our mini-camp, and it worked very smoothly for us, and we’ll continue to do that.”

Garrett has been the team’s play-caller since 2007 when he became offensive coordinator.

Callahan has not called plays in an NFL game since 2003.

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean

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